Graduate Route Visa

The new Graduate Route visa started on 1 July 2021. This route allows students on a Student Route visa (previously known as Tier 4) who graduate to be able to seek employment or work in the UK. 

The Graduate Route is an unsponsored route, meaning you do not need a job offer to apply for the route. You will be able to work flexibly, switch jobs and develop your career in the UK as required.

Home Office eligibility criteria states that a student must successfully complete a course at UK Bachelor degree level or above at a Higher Education provider which has a track record of compliance with its Home Office sponsor licence.  The University of Birmingham meets this criteria.

This Graduate Route visa application can only be made from within the UK and the student must hold a valid Student visa (previously known as Tier 4) to apply.

You can only apply for the Graduate Route visa once. Therefore, if you are considering further studies in the UK, you may wish to postpone applying for the Graduate Route visa until you have completed all your desired academic studies. Please note, this visa doesn't lead to settlement (permanent residency in the UK).

Graduate Route Visa Point Table
 Points Type  Relevant Requirements to be Met  Number of Points
 Successful Completion of Course
  • Successful completion requirement
  • Qualification requirement
  • Study in the UK requirement

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the requirements for the Graduate visa?

To be eligible for this route you must meet the following requirements:

  • Hold a current valid Tier 4 (General) or Student visa at the date you submit your visa application;
  • To successfully complete a course which you were last granted a visa for to study;
  • Your course must be at UK Bachelor degree level or above at a Higher Education provider with a track record of Home Office student sponsor licence compliance; and
  • You have successfully completed your course in the UK - this is through receiving a notification email from the University:
  • If the course is 12 months or less the entire course must be completed in the UK;  OR
  • If the course is longer than 12 months you must have spent at least 12 months under your current permission as a student in the UK. For example if you are a University of Birmingham student studying a 3 year undergraduate programme at the Dubai campus and you decide to transfer your location and study at the Edgbaston campus then you must spend a minimum of 12 months studying in the UK on a student route visa.

Which qualifications meet the requirement?

The qualifications which meet the requirements are:

  • UK bachelor’s degree;
  • UK postgraduate degree;
  • A law conversion course validated by the Joint Academic Stage board in England and Wales;
  • The Legal practice course in England and Wales, or the Bar courses in Northern Ireland;
  • A foundation programme in Medicine or Dentistry;
  • A Postgraduate certificate in Education (PGCE) course or;
  • A professional course requiring study at UK bachelor’s degree level or above in a profession with reserved activities that is regulated by UK law or UK public authority.

I have not been in the UK due to COVID-19, will I still be eligible to apply?

The University can only guide you on this visa route. The information below is shown on the UKCISA visa guide.

If you do not meet the study in the UK requirement because you have been distance learning outside the UK due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you may still be eligible. You must come to the UK on your Student permission, and your personal deadline for arriving in the UK depends on the length of your course, when it started, and whether you are entering the UK for the first time, or you are returning.

To qualify for the Graduate route, you must meet the study in the UK requirement as outlined in Appendix Graduate, GR6.1. This requirement is different depending on the total length of your course of study. This is called the "relevant period".

  • If you are studying a course that is 12 months long or less you should have held Student permission for the full duration of your course, during which all study took place in the UK.
  • If you are studying a course that is longer than 12 months you should have held Student permission for at least 12 months, during which all study took place in the UK.

There is an exception in the Graduate route caseworker guidance (page 12) for courses of more than 12 months: “If a course lasting longer than 12 months was completed using a combination of immigration routes, then the applicant must have spent the minimum required time as a Student or Tier 4 migrant in the most recent period of permission.”

If you applied for Student permission before you started the course, but it was not granted until after you started, the Graduate route caseworker guidance confirms on page 11 that you will be treated as having Student permission from the start date of the course.

The Graduate route caseworker guidance (page 11) explains how course length is counted: "A course with a start date of 30 September 2020 and an end date of 29 September 2021 is 12 months long. A course is longer than 12 months if it starts on 30 September 2020 and ends on 30 September 2021 or later."

I will be graduating in the summer of 2022 and beyond do I need to travel to the UK by 21 June 2021 and 27 September 2021 to be eligible for the Graduate Route?

No, the date set by the Home Office to travel to the UK on or before 21 June 2021 and before 27 September 2021 are for those students whose course length is 12 months or less in duration, who will be completing their course in 2021.

The Home Office have since revised their position and have now extended the date by which international students must be in the UK.  International students who began their course in 2020 or 2021, and are studying overseas by distance learning, must now enter the UK by 27 September 2021 or before their visa expires, whichever is sooner.

When can I apply for the Graduate Route?

You can only submit a visa application after you have successfully completed your course and you have been officially notified by email through the University.  If you make your visa application before successful completion of your course, it will be refused by UKVI.

You will need to make sure you meet the full visa eligibility criteria before you make an application.

Please note, you can only apply for the Graduate Route visa once.

Will I have to meet a maintenance requirement?

No, there is no maintenance requirement to be met as part of the Graduate route visa application process. However, if you have been sponsored or awarded a scholarship in the 12 months before the date of your application for the Graduate visa, by a Government or international scholarship agency covering both your fees and living costs for study in the UK, you must provide a letter from that Government or agency to consent to the application. 

Do I have to satisfy the English language requirement?

No, the successful completion of your course will demonstrate you have sufficient English language skills.  

Does the University have to sponsor me for the Graduate visa?

No. The Graduate visa route is an unsponsored route which means you will not require a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) or Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS). 

Will the University confirm with the Home Office the successful completion of my course?

Yes, the University is required to confirm to Home Office at the date of your Graduate route visa application that you have successfully completed your course. This email notification is normally automatically sent to you by the University. 

If you think you should have received the email notification about Graduate Route from the University following your successful course results but haven't then please get in touch with the IST as we can help make sure this is sent to you.

You may be advised of the process for this when you book onto one of our workshops. Please note, the Graduate Route email notification is not related to your graduation ceremony which comes later normally. 

What type of work can undertake on a Graduate visa?

With the exception of the below question, there are no restrictions on the type of work or number of hours you can work.  Voluntary work and self-employment are permitted. 

What type of work can I not undertake on a Graduate visa?

It not possible to be employed as a professional sportsperson under this category.

How long will I be allowed to stay in the UK if I am granted a Graduate visa?

Undergraduates, Postgraduate taught and PhD students will be granted leave depending on the level of study completed:

  • PhD or other doctoral qualification - 3 years duration
  • All other qualifications (e.g. BA degree) - 2 years duration

Will I have to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge?

Yes. The amount you have to pay will be dependent on whether you will be granted a visa for two or three years. The yearly amount for the Immigration Health Surcharge is £1,035. 

Can I undertake supplementary study whilst on a Graduate visa?

Yes, supplementary study is permitted but you cannot use a Graduate route visa if you want to undertake a full-time course at an institution which holds a Sponsorship license, you will require a Student visa and will need a new CAS.  

Will I have to obtain an ATAS certificate if I study on a Graduate visa?

You will be required to obtain an ATAS certificate if it is applicable to the course you want to study and you are not an exempt national. 

I currently hold a visa as a Student Union Sabbatical Officer, will I be eligible to apply for a Graduate visa?

Yes, you will be eligible if your last grant of permission was a Student visa and obtained your qualification under this permission. 

Will I be able to access public funds whilst on a Graduate visa?

No, you cannot access public funds whilst on a Graduate Route visa. The visa would state condition of (NRPF) No Recourse to Public Funds. You cannot apply for benefits if they are classed as public funds. The main purpose of this visa route is for a graduate to look for work. This means you need to make sure you can support yourself during the duration of the visa. 

The visa conditions are detailed on the UKCISA visa guide and on the UKVI application website.


If I am granted a Graduate visa, can I switch into another visa category?

Yes.  You will be permitted to switch into another visa category. For example, you can switch into Skilled Worker if your employer wants to sponsor you. 

Can I apply for indefinite leave to remain following the completion of my Graduate visa?

No.  The Graduate Route does not permit a person to apply for indefinite leave to remain upon completion of the Graduate visa.  However, whilst on the graduate route visa if you switch to a Skilled Worker visa this will lead to settlement.

I currently hold a visa on the Doctorate Extension Scheme, can I apply for the Graduate visa?

No.  The Graduate Route replaces the Doctorate Extension Scheme. If you currently hold visa permission under the Doctorate Extension Scheme you will not be eligible to apply for the Graduate visa.   

If I am refused my Graduate visa, can I appeal the decision?

Yes.  You can apply for an Administrate Review.  You would have to make the application for Administrative review within 14 days of receiving the decision.

You should let the IST know immediately if your visa is refused by emailing and including the following title in the subject line of your email ‘URGENT: Graduate Route Visa Refusal’.  You will need to also ensure you send the IST the following documents:

  • Copy of all pages of the Graduate Route Visa Refusal Notice/email;  
  • Copy of your completed online Graduate Route visa application PDF format; and
  • Copy of all supporting visa documents submitted.

My dependants are currently with me with a dependant visa. Are my dependents able to apply under the Graduate Route?

If your partner or children hold permission as a dependent of a Student they will be eligible to apply as your dependents under the Graduate Route. 

My dependants are currently outside the UK. Can they apply for the Graduate Route?

If your dependants do not hold a dependant visa and are not in the UK with you, then they will not be eligible to apply as your dependant under the Graduate Route.

Will I be required to register with the police?

Police registration ended on 5 August 2022. Please see our webpage on police registration for more information. 

Can I extend my Graduate visa?

No. You cannot extend the Graduate Route visa. You can only apply once for the Graduate Route.

The maximum time permitted on this route is:

  • Two years for undergraduates and postgraduates taught (Bachelors or Masters degree) students
  • Three years for postgraduate research (PhD degree) students. 

What advice and support will the University offer to international students who want to apply for the Graduate visa?

The International Student Team (IST) will be running a series of workshops delivered on Zoom for all international students eligible for the Graduate Route visa.  

Delivery method:


Meeting ID: 896 7691 7446

Passcode: 566398

Link: Join Zoom Meeting:


14:00 to 15:00 (GMT)


  • 10 January 2024
  • 24 January 2024
  • 07 February 2024 (CANCELLED) - This workshop has been cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances. If you have any immediate questions about the Graduate Route visa please log them at
  • 21 February 2024
  • 06 March 2024
  • 20 March 2024
  • 03 April 2024
  • 17 April 2024
  • 01 May 2024
  • 15 May 2024
  • 29 May 2024
  • 12 June 2024
  • 26 June 2024
  • 10 July 2024
  • 24 July 2024
  • 07 August 2024
  • 21 August 2024
  • 04 September 2024
  • 18 September 2024
  • 02 October 2024
  • 16 October 2024
  • 30 October 2024
  • 13 November 2024
  • 27 November 2024
  • 11 December 2024


How do I register for a Graduate Route visa workshops?


Meeting ID: 896 7691 7446

Passcode: 566398

Link: Join Zoom Meeting:

Will the International Student Team (IST) check my visa documents in preparation for the Graduate Route visa application?

The IST can only guide students on the Home Office Graduate Route visa criteria and visa document requirements.  This information will be covered in a workshop setting. 

IST will not be offering visa document checking sessions or go through a student’s online visa application as this is an unsponsored visa route. See UKCISA for the full advice that is really detailed and contains a recent webinar. 

For any students who would like their visa documents or online visa application checked are advised to seek the services of an independent Immigration Specialist. 

You can search for your nearest Immigration Specialist by using the Law Society online search tool find a Solicitor.  Please note independent Immigration Specialists charge a fee for their service, therefore it is important that you ask about any fees associated with the advice you require.

I have a specific immigration question about the Graduate Route how do I contact the IST to obtain immigration advice?

Please understand that the Graduate Route is unsponsored visa for the University which means we are only able to give you guidance, not specialist advice. 

You may wish to contact independent legal experts. Whilst IST does not offer any recommendations, we have prepared some information on Solicitors and Regulated Immigration Advisors.

If you have a specific question regarding the Graduate Route and you would like further advice and guidance then you can first check the following before contacting the IST or an independant legal expert:



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